Art and Experience:

The season is off and running with the 28th annual SAG Awards, set to air at 5 p.m. PT Feb. 27 on both TNT and TBS. The SAG Awards tend to be a major indicator of how the Academy Award acting races will play out and on the television side, it marks the first major awards show of the new year — meaning several new shows are getting their first big shot to make an impact. Ahead of the ceremony, Variety takes a look at the pool of nominees.

Film Categories

Why SAG Awards Matter for Film
Simply put, the SAG Awards are the first strong indication of how the acting categories at the Academy Awards may be leaning. While other ceremonies have usually taken place prior to the SAG Awards — traditionally both Critics Choice Awards and Golden Globes go first, though this year Critics Choice have been delayed — those groups are not the Oscar voting body. Of the estimated 9,300 Oscar voters, 1,336 are in the actors branch, making it the largest. And it stands to reason that they’re also SAG Awards voters. In its 26 years, the SAG Awards acting winners have fit perfectly with Oscar seven times and matched three out of four 11 times. Also, as the voters are all fellow actors — their peers — nominees and winners often comment on how special the honor is to them.

 

 

Veterans and Breakthroughs
This year’s film nominees offer a strong mix of returning talent and newcomers. There are familiar faces including previous SAG Awards winners Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth,”) Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos,” Jared Leto (“House of Gucci”) and Cate Blanchett (“Nightmare Alley”) in the mix. But there are also breakthrough stars including Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”) and Troy Kostur (“CODA”), competing with their first nominations. In the ensemble category are the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence in “Don’t Look Up,” nominated alongside 11-year-old Jude Hill, making his feature film debut in “Belfast.”

All in the Family
Speaking of ensemble, the SAG Awards are one of the few ceremonies that honor the cast — and since 2007, they’ve been celebrating stunt ensembles, as well. If ensemble is all about putting together a family, it’s only fitting that this year’s category nominees highlight precisely that. Kenneth Branagh’s autobiographical “Belfast” focuses on a tight-knit Irish family in 1969, as seen through the eyes of a 9-year-old boy. “CODA” portrays a loving, deaf family whose hearing daughter wants to break away and attend college. “King Richard” takes a look at the rise of tennis champs Venus and Serena Williams through the story of their family, mainly their determined father, Richard. On the more dysfunctional side, “House of Gucci” looks at the dark deceit and betrayal that scandalized one of the biggest fashion names in the world. Even “Don’t Look Up,” with its sprawling cast of characters, is about the family we ultimately choose.

TV Categories

 

 

Why SAG Matters for TV
On the television front, the SAG Awards are the first main show of the year — disregarding this year’s Golden Globe awards, which were not televised following the fallout around the HFPA. The SAG Awards nominees were chosen by 2,500 randomly selected members of the SAG-AFTRA, which comprises nearly 160,000 individuals. The winners are then selected by the entire organization. The ceremony, which many times highlights otherwise ignored programming, serves as a a way for TV stars to be recognized by those who know the craft best.

The Power of Language
Two years ago, Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” made history as the first non-English-language film to win the top award for film. The following year, “Minari” star Youn Yuh-jung became the first Korean to take home female supporting actor. Now, it’s TV’s turn with Netflix’s “Squid Game.” The overnight sensation earned four noms, including actor recognitions for Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon as well as drama ensemble and stunt ensemble noms. The viral series is the first non-English-language show to be recognized by SAG-AFTRA.

Can ‘Succession’ Succeed?
It’s not unusual in the least for a series to sweep awards season — and that’s what “Succession” is hoping to accomplish. Though it took its third season to finally earn recognition from the SAG Awards, “Succession” walked away with a drama series ensemble nom, Sarah Snook for the female drama actor category and Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin and Jeremy Strong dominate the male drama actor category. They’re alongside “Squid Game” star Lee and “The Morning Show’s” Billy Crudup. There is, of course, the rare chance that the men of “Succession” could cancel one another out.

Missing Gems
Days before the nominations were announced, “Pose” star Michaela Jaé Rodriguez became the first trans actress to take home a Golden Globe Award. She was unable to celebrate on camera since the Globes didn’t air, but most hoped she’d get the chance at the SAG Awards. Instead, her end-of-season performance — as well as the show overall — was completely ignored. Although “Pose” hadn’t been nominated before, the final season highlighted Rodriguez and Billy Porter in such a bright light that the snub was a big one — and it wasn’t alone. Issa Rae has received nominations at every major award show for “Insecure,” but has been continuously disregarded by SAG-AFTRA, with the final season of the powerful series following suit.

The Big Leagues
It’s no secret that the SAG Awards have become comfortable going with the usual suspects for TV nominations, and for many years, honor the same stars. Take Alec Baldwin, who won the comedy actor award for seven straight years during his time on “30 Rock.” That said, the 2022 ceremony may shake things up with “Yellowstone” entering the race in the ensemble category, facing off against “Succession,” “Squid Game,” “The Morning Show” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Additionally, the western drama is also the only series representing linear television. Usual broadcast nominees — including “This Is Us,” which is airing its final season — were completely shut out.

Getting Smart
For the past 20 years, Jean Smart has been giving award-winning performances, yet has never taken home the Actor. This year, Smart could bring home three trophies, as she’s nominated for actress in a miniseries for HBO’s “Mare of Easttown” and female actress in a comedy for HBO Max’s “Hacks.” The Emmy-winning comedy is also nominated for comedy series, alongside “The Great,” “The Kominsky Method,” “Only Murders in the Building” and “Ted Lasso.”

Source: Variety